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Imagine That! - Waiting To Exhale: Respiratory Sensors

Imagine That!
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Imagine That! - Waiting To Exhale: Respiratory Sensors

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

If your 2007 road trip turns into an unexpected accident, your life could be saved by the latest technology...a breathalyzer?

Imagine that!

With one exhale, emergency medical workers armed with a new invention can test your carbon dioxide level, an indicator of serious respiratory problems. Similar sensors are in most hospitals, but these "carbon nanotubes" are portable, disposable, and tiny.

Made possible by the new world of nanotechnology, rolled sheets of carbon atoms just a few nanometers in diameter are used. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter, or fifty thousand times smaller than a human hair. The tiny sheets are planted on silicon chips, creating an ultra-sensitive sensor transducer.

These "carbon nanotubes" are being developed by a team from Nanomix. Manager of applications development for the technology company is Alexander Star:

Star: "I have received a lot of interest from people who want to take the sensors to remote locations to study the effect of elevation on human respiration."

Design and testing of a field-ready nanotube is in the works, as scientists and medical professionals anxiously wait for this mini innovation to take its first breath. I'm Eric Philips.

"Imagine That! "covers projects funded in part by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally supported research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

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